Inside Student 2.0: Student Perspectives on
avigating Online and Offline Identities
Rocci Luppicini and Patricia Barber
This chapter draws on phenomenological research methods and collage inquiry tech-
niques to conduct a collaborate self-study of university students views of their online
and offline identities. Both visual and text-based data were included to capture the
multifaceted nature and complexity of identity representation. The research question
guiding this study is as follows: How do university students compare their online
and offline identities? Fifty-seven student participants created personal narratives and
collages comparing their online and offline identities. Findings revealed that students
have a complex approach to online and offline identities that aligned with their con-
ceptualization of online and offline identity as being either the same (continuous) or
different. This division in student orientation toward their online and offline iden-
tity appeared to influence student online attitudes and behaviors in important ways.
This research found key links between student identity orientation, the influence of
anonymity in influencing online behavior, and online identity management strategies
among students. Educational implications and future research directions are discussed.
In this electronic age we see ourselves being translated more and more into the form
of information, moving toward the technological extension of consciousness.
Online I feel powerful and connected to the world ‘around me’ My connections al-
low instant communication and sharing. I don’t feel restricted by rules or money so
I collect the things I want and need. Some think I’m immoral but I feel my online
intelligence is working to bring about a new economy. Offline I see myself as a
‘unique,’ bound by the restrictions of time, money, and societal values; just another
cog in the capitalist machine—just like everyone else.
It appears that some of the predictions of Marshall McLuhan are becoming en-
trenched in the public eye as technology becomes more and more integrated into life
and society. This is particularly salient among youth who are growing up within this
digital age. In researching the use of mobile phones among youth, Carroll, Howard,
Vetere, Peck, and Murphy (2002) indicated, “It was clear in this research that young
people are adopting a lifestyle rather than a technology perspective: They want tech-
nology to add value to their lifestyles, satisfy their social and leisure needs and re-
inforce their group identity.” This deep connection between technology and life is